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Ran Muthu Duwa



(First Colour Feature Film in Sinhala)

By Rohan Abeygunawardena
( and
Ananda Wickramarachchi

This article is dedicated to all the crew members of the first Sinhala colour film Ran Muthu Duwa that was screened 60 years ago on 10 August 1962.)

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke CBE FRAS was very well known world over as a renowned English science-fiction writer, science writer, futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host. But very few knew him as a producer of Sinhala feature films. He embarked on that for the benefit of the people in his host country Sri Lanka.

His first film co-produced with Mike Wilson and Shesha Palihakkara was Ran Muthu Duwa or Island of Treasures Ran Muthu Duwa was the first full-length Sinhala feature film in colour. The film was released on 10th August 1962, 60 years ago.

The film was directed by Mike Wilson, a photographer who immigrated to newly independent British colony of Ceylon in 1956 along with Arthur. Mike was originally from New Zealand and then lived in Britain and USA. Two friends Arthur and Mike were the early adopters of aqua-lung, invented in the mid-1940s which enabled divers to spend extended periods of time underwater. Both were “Scuba Divers” and lovers of exploring undersea and spent two adventurous years exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia before arriving to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They have produced many rare underwater photographs taken during underwater expeditions. These were illustrated in Arthur’s book “The Coast of Coral.”

There was a very fascinating story behind making Ran Muthu Duwa. Arthur and Mike embarked on an underwater exploration expedition off the southern coast; in proximity to Yala off Kirinda beach. These were vast coral reefs found in Sri Lanka. Their friend Rodney Jonklaas, a Sri Lankan marine biologist and a diver also joined them.

This area exposed to the force of both monsoons, and the sea was very rough throughout the year and many a ships sank during the period of European colonisation. British realised the necessity to build offshore light houses for the safety of seafarers. They completed the project building two lighthouses known as the Great Basses and Little Basses using modern lenses called hyper radiant Fresnel lenses. The lighthouses were named Maha Ravana Kotuwa” and Kuda Ravana Kotuwa in Sinhala.

While exploring underwater terrain close to Great Basses and Little Basses Arthur, Mike and Rodney discovered bags of silver coins, cannons, and other artefacts on 22nd March 1961. Further research conducted by them examining historical records at Colombo Museum and other libraries established that the silver coins were from an early 18th century sunken ship belonged to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Their discovery was named the “Great Basses Wreck.”

Mike in his late twenties was an energetic young man was very keen to make a colour feature film based on their discovery. He has already produced a short film based on the underwater experiences around Great Barrier Reef in Australia when exploring it with Arthur. Mike, together with Arthur and Rodney, also wrote, photographed and directed the 25 minute documentary “Beneath the Seas of Ceylon” in 1958. This was the first film that displayed the beauty under the Sri Lankan oceans. Rodney once mentioned that he had learnt photography in general and underwater photography in particular from Mike.

Mike and Rodney approached Shesha Palihakkara who agreed to co-produce the film. Arthur, Mike and Sesha setup a company by the name Serendib Productions to make the film. The storyline was developed by Mike who had the knack for writing stories during his schooldays.


Bandu, a young man had a dream on a Wesak night. His father who was a pearl oyster diver, passed away several years ago, appeared and advised him to remove the pendant that hangs from a chain worn round his neck as it could bring bad luck to his life. Bandu broke the chain in his sleep and woke up frightened and sweating. Bandu remembered that the pendant was a silver coin his father picked up while pearl diving close to their Ran Muthu Duwa (a fictitious island). The day after it was picked up his father had a mysterious death. The next morning, together with his two friends Sena and Raju, Bandu visited a jewellery shop. Shop owner, Danapala examining the coin realised the value of it and pretending as a coin collector offered Rs.350 to buy off. Three friends now very much inquisitive did not accept the offer and left the shop. Danapala sent a man to follow the young men.

Bandu and his friends now keen to find out more about the coin, visited Colombo Museum. According to the records, this coin was from a treasure of an ancient shipwreck. They decided to go to the village and meet Bandu’s uncle. Uncle helped them to meet a Swami living in the island. Swami told the young men that there had been a temple situated in this island. Portuguese ransacked and all the wealth possessed by the temple was taken away in a ship. But they couldn’t sail very far and the ship was wrecked by a sudden storm. This was now a treasure that had run aground as a result of the curse of the God. He further said whoever tried to recover it would meet his death.

In the meantime, Danapala too came to the island and met his old friends Muthusami and Kalidasan. A business rival of Bandu’s late father, Muthusami had become very rich now. Muthusami’s daughter was known to Bandu during their school days in the village. Muthusami’s intention was to give her daughter Kumari, in marriage to Kalidasan’s son Renga. In the meantime Bandu met Kumari and a love affair developed between the two. Kalidasan and Renga hated them.

Danapala, a cunning man he was, approached the young men and tried to persuade them to join his team to recover the treasurer. Bandu flatly refused. His intention was to recover the treasure and build a temple to enable the people to worship with Swami’s blessings.

Bandu and the friends hired a boat from Muthusami with the help of his uncle to explore underwater to locate the treasure. Bandu and Renga met each other under water and the latter tried to attack the former. The ensuing fight resulted Renga losing and drifting away unconscious. Bandu brought part of the treasure to the boat in a cane bucket. He went underwater again to bring the remaining part of the treasure against the advice of his friends. Accompanied by Muthusami, Danapala got into Bandu’s boat wielding a gun and over powered Bandu’s friends and the uncle. When Bandu came on board with the balance part of the treasure, Danapala tried to shoot and kill him. But Muthusami was against it and pushed Danapala off the boat.

In the meantime Kalidasan got hold of Kumari who was coming to the beach to meet Bandu. Kalidasan took her to the rock where the ancient kings beheaded the offenders. She was chained to the rock. She was submerged in the seawater when Bandu found her. Rajo ran into a hardware shop close by and forcefully grabbed a hand saw blade from the shop owner. He and the friends managed to cut the chain and rescued Kumari at the last moment.Bandu got the treasure, but he used part of that to rebuild the temple and handed over the balance to the government.


Mike and Sesha invited in 25-year-old Gamini Fonseka for the leading role, “Bandu.” Gamini was an extra in Rekawa and had acted in few films such as Daiva Yogaya (1959-minor role), Sandeshaya (1960-leading but not the main role). He initially wanted to be a cameraman but got the opportunity to work as a second assistant director of David Lean’s award winning “Bridge on the River Kwai” and Lester James Peries’ Rekawa.

Gamini never wanted a stuntman to perform his underwater scenes. Confident and arrogant, Gamini insisted that he should be given training in diving. He proved to be a good diver after few days of training. Gamini, the handsome and smart young man went on to dominate the Sinhala film scene for at least five decades.

Looking around, the producers found a 21 year old girl from Panadura Arts Association to play the role of the heroine. She was Jeevarani Kurukulasuriya. She has acted in a popular stage drama Maha Hene Riri Yaka a story written by late Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranayke and directed by Dick Dias. Jeevarani too became a popular actress in Sinhala Cinema, later on.

A friend of Arthur and Mike, Hector Eknayake was persuaded to play the villain’s role as Renga. Hector, a former Boxer also helped training the cast in fighting scenes in this action packed Sinhala production. Hector also trained Gamini in diving.

Others selected were Joe Abeywickrama as Sena, Shane Gunaratne as Rajo, Anthony C. Perera as Bandu’s uncle, Austin Abeysekera as Danapala, Vincent Vass as Kumari’s father Muttusamy, Thilakasiri Fernando as Swami, Eddie Amarasinghe as Sena’s friend, LakShmi Bai as Bandu’s mother, Sam P. Liyanage as the Moor hardware shop owner.

Others who contributed to the success of Ran Muthu Duwa:

Tissa Liyanasuriya was assigned with the task of writing the script and the dialogues in Sinhala, based on Mike’s storyline. He was also employed as the assistant director.

The film editing and other technical matters were assigned to Titus Thotawatte who had already carried out editing of Lester’s “Rekawa.”

Rodney Jonklaas assisted in the production and also as a diver of Danapala’s team.

Maestro W.D. Amaradeva got his very first opportunity to direct the music of a film. Together with Sri Chandrarathne Manawasinghe who did the lyrics they composed three songs. The theme song “Paramitha Bala” sung by Amaradeva and Nanda Malini. A love song for hero and heroine, Bandu and Kumari was “Galana Gangaki Jeevithe” and the playback singers were Narada Disasekera and Nanda Malani. “Pipi Pipi Renu Natana,” a group song was sung by Narada. For Nanda Malani and Narada this was the first break in the film industry to perform as playback singers. These songs were very popular even today after 60 years.

However Amaradeva composed only part of the background music. He was unable to travel to London with his musicians due to financial constraints to provide music at the time of processing of underwater scenes. Titus found a solution. He bought few instrumental music records (EP’s) and incorporated as background music. As a result part of the background music of the first Sinhala colour film was western, not the Maestro’s type.

Filming and Location

The film was shot in and around Trincomalee, Eastern Sri Lanka and close to Swami Rock (Kôṇâmalai) also called ‘lovers leap,’ where the ancient Koneswaram Hindu Temple perch atop it. Director of photography was assigned to W.A. Ratnayake. There were three cameramen. Outdoor filming was by Mike himself, underwater by Rodney and Sumiththa Amarasinghe filmed song sequence of “Galana Gangaki Jeevithe.”

Studio cameraman for the film was M. S. Anandan of Ceylon Studios.

Development and Critical reception

It was a genuine sunken treasure discovered by Arthur and Mike off Kirinda beach in the south of Sri Lanka that inspired energetic Mike Wilson to make Ran Muthu Duwa. Mike had written, shot and directed a short (25 mins.) underwater documentary film naming “Beneath the Seas of Ceylon” for Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board. Arthur was little hesitant initially but later agreed to provide part of the finance and also to help in production. The company Arthur, Mike and Sesha formed, Serendib Productions worked on a budget of Rs.450,000. Arthur provided start-up capital of Rs.50,000.

Ran Muthu Duwa

(Island of Treasures) was the first full-length colour film to be produced in Sinhala in Sri Lanka. While underwater filming was shot on using a 16mm Arri flex camera with double side perforation negative, for the other scenes a 35mm Arri flex IIc camera was used. The entire film was shot on Eastman Colour 32 ASA (American Standard Association). But the technology was such in the sixties there was no final colour negative. Instead 35mm four number of black and white matrices had to be technically processed for optical sound track and one each for three basic colours of Blue, Green, and Red (BGR) for printing the positives using BGR filters. Mike and Titus took the exposed negatives and dialogue tracks to Technicolor Laboratories in London for processing.

While Titus and Mike were processing the films with technicians at the Technicolor Laboratories in London, the famous film director Terence Young and his men were processing “Dr. No,” the first James Bond film in an adjoining studio. Terence hearing that an underwater feature film from the island of Ceylon was being processed, had barged into the studio and discussed the technical features of underwater filming with Mike and Titus.

A lover of films Dinesh Priyasad was an early viewer of “Thunderball,” the fourth Bond Film directed by Terence that was released in 1965. Dinesh was generally familiar with the technical aspects of filmmaking and directed several Sinhala films later on, including award winning Demodara Palama He also provided technical details for this article. Dinesh noticed that many underwater scenes were similar to Ran Muthu Duwa and informed his good friend Mike of his findings. Mike too watched this film several times and realised the plot. He knew for certain that some underwater sequences were being developed from his film. According to Titus, Mike became a worried man for Terence didn’t have the common courtesy to even acknowledge that in the end credits of the film “Thunderball” or written a letter thanking him. Mike’s frustration led him tomake a film naming Sorungeth Soru literally meaning “thieves are always thieves.” This was probably the wackiest feature film directed by Mike, yet it won Best Film and Best Actor awards at the 5th Sarasaviya Awards held in 1968.

Ran Muthu Duwa, with beautiful underwater scenes including fighting sequences was released on 10 August 1962, and it received overwhelmingly positive reviews. It also became the talking point throughout Sri Lanka, not only among Sinhala film fans but also those who loved Tamil and English films. Some of my Tamil friends said it was better than MGR (M.G. Ramachandran) films. Some others said it was like an “English Mystery Thriller.” Nearly one million people or ten percent of the population had seen it, and at the end of the day Ran Muthu Duwa was a tremendous commercial success. The film received “Famous film,” “Best Male Singer,” “Best Female Singer,” “Best Lyricist,” awards at the first Sarasaviya Awards held in 1964 and the “Favourite Producer” award at third Deepasika Award Ceremony in 1972.

Arthur C. Clerk who was hesitant to finance the project when proposal was made by his friend Mike, yet he exclaimed later, “I have never grown tired of watching the scenes of dawn over the great temples, the sea-washed cliffs of Trincomalee, the lines of pilgrims descending Adam’s Peak, and the mysterious underwater sequences even today, thirty-six years after it was made.” He wanted to arrange a re-release. But that never took place as he passed away on the 19th March 2008.Many of the film crew members are no more except Jeevarani Kurukulasuriya, Nanda Malini, Tissa Liyanasuriya and Hector Ekanayake.

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What JVP-NPP needs to do to win



A JVP protest


A young academic at the Open University writing on a popular website has recently defined the NPP project as ‘Left populist’, a term which is very familiar to us at least from the writings of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. He also mentions several parallels and precursors internationally.

As one who has been advocating a ‘left populist’ project for years, I am disinclined to nit-pick about whether or not the JVP-NPP fits the bill. At the moment and in its current incarnation, it is indeed the closest we have to a ‘left populist’ project. Its competitor the SJB, which its founder-leader identifies as social democratic, would be as approximate –and as loose– a fit for the labels ‘progressive populist’, ‘moderate populist’ or ‘populist centrist’, as the JVP-NPP is for ‘left populist’. But that’s the deck of cards we have.

The points I seek to make are different, and may be said to boil down to a single theme or problematique.

Distorted Left Populism

My argument is that the JVP-NPP is as distant from ‘left populism’ globally as it was from ‘left revolutionism’ globally in an earlier incarnation. In both avatars, it is unique in its leftism but not in a positive or helpful way for its cause at any given time.

Mine is not intended as a damning indictment of the JVP-NPP. It is intended as a constructive criticism of a rectifiable error, the rectification of which is utterly urgent given the deadly threat posed by the Wickremesinghe administration and its project of dependent dictatorship.

The JVP-NPP has a structural absence that no ‘left populist’ enterprise, especially in Latin America, has ever had. It is an absence that has marked the JVP from its inception and has been carried over into the present NPP project.

It is not an absence unique to the JVP but figures more in Sri Lanka than it has almost anywhere else. I say this because the same ‘absence’ characterised the LTTE as well. In short, that factor or its radical absence has marred the anti-systemic forces of South and North on the island.

The homeland of left populism has been Latin America while its second home has been Southern Europe. With the exception of Greece, it may be said that ‘left populism’ has an Ibero-American or culturally Hispanic character, which some might trace to the ‘romanticism’ of that culture. But such considerations need not detain us here.

‘Left populism’ has had several identifiable sources and points of departure: the former guerrilla movements of the 1960s and 1970s; the non-guerrilla movements of resistance to dictatorships; parties and split-offs from parties of the Marxist left; left-oriented split-offs or the leftwing of broad flexible even centrist populist formations; leftwing experiments from within the militaries etc.

Populism, Pluralism & Unity

Despite this diversity, all experiments of a Left populist character in Latin America and Europe, have had one thing in common: various forms of unity – e.g., united fronts, blocs etc.—of political parties. I would take up far too much space if I were to list them, starting with the Frente Amplio (which means precisely ‘Broad Front’) initiated by the Tupamaros-MLN of Uruguay and containing the Uruguayan Communist party and headed by a military man, General Liber Seregni, in 1970. The Frente Amplio lasted through the decades of the darkest civil-military dictatorship up to the presidential electoral victories of Tabaré Vasquez and Mujica respectively. Another example would be El Salvador’s FMLN, which brought together several Marxist guerrilla movements into a single front under the stern insistence of Fidel Castro.

Though the roots of unity were back in the 1970s, the formula has only been strengthened in the 1990s and 21st century projects of Left populism. There is a theoretical-strategic logic for this. The polarisation of ‘us vs them’, the 99% vs. the 1%, the many not the few—in socioeconomic terms—is of course a hallmark of populism. But pro-NPP academics and ideologues are unaware of or omit its corollary everywhere from Uruguay to Greece and Spain. Namely, that socioeconomic ‘majoritarianism’ is not possible with a single party as agency.

When the JVP and the NPP have the same leader, and the JVP leader was the founder of the NPP, I cannot regard it as a truly autonomous project, but a party project. Left populism globally, from its inception right up to Lula last year, is predicated on the admission of political, not just social plurality, and the fact that socioeconomic, i.e., popular majoritarianism is possible only as a pluri-party united front, platform or bloc.

This recognition of the imperative of unity as necessitating a convergence of political fractions and currents; that unity is impossible as a function of a single political party; that authentic majoritarianism i.e., “us” is possible only if “we” converge and combine as an ensemble of our organic political agencies, is a structural feature of Left Populism.

It is radically absent in the JVP-NPP and has been so from the JVP’s founding in 1965. It was also true of the LTTE.

It is this insistence on political unipolarity (to put it diplomatically) or political monopoly (to put it bluntly) is a genetic defect of the JVP which has been carried over into the NPP project.

I do not say this to contest the leading role and the main role that the JVP has earned in any left populist project. I say it to draw the Gramscian distinction between ‘leadership’ and ‘domination’. Only ‘leadership’ can create consensus and popular consent; domination through monopoly cannot.

The simple truth is that however ‘left populist’ you think you are; no single party can be said to represent the people or even a majority – as distinct from a mere plurality– of the people. Furthermore, the people are not a unitary subject, and therefore cannot have a unitary leadership. This is the importance of Fidel Castro’s insistence to the Latin American Left of a ‘united command’ which brings together the diverse segments of the left by reflecting plurality.

Anyone who knows the history of Syriza and Podemos knows that they are not outcrops of some single party of long-standing but the result of an organic process of convergences of factions.

Had the JVP had a policy of united fronts – within the Southern left and with the Northern left– it would not have been as decisively defeated as it was in its two insurrections, and might have even succeeded in its second attempt. Though it has formed the NPP which has brought some significant success, it is still POLITICALLY sectarian in that it has no political alliances, partnerships, i.e., NO POLITICAL RELATIONSHIPS outside of itself.

I must emphasize that here I am not speaking of a bloc with the SJB, though it is most desirable, to be recommended, and if this were Latin America would definitely be on the agenda of discussion.

Post-Aragalaya Left

Let us speak frankly. The most important phenomenon of recent times (since the victorious end of the war) was the Aragalaya of last year. The JVP, especially its student front the SYU, participated in that massive uprising which dislodged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but it played a less decisive role in the Aragalaya than did the FSP and the IUSF which is close to it. This is by no means to say that the FSP led the Aragalaya, but to point out that it played a more decisive role – which included some mistakes– than did the JVP.

How then does one remain blind to the fact that the JVP-NPP’s ‘left populism’ does not include the FSP and by extension the IUSF? How can there be a ‘popular bloc’ – a key element of left populism—without the IUSF?

Given that Pubudu Jayagoda, Duminda Nagamuwa, Lahiru Weerasekara and Wasantha Mudalige are among the most successful public communicators today (especially on the left), what kind of ‘left’ is a ‘left populism’ devoid of their presence, participation and contribution?

What does it take to recognise that unity of some sort of these two streams of the Left could result in a most useful division of labour and a quantum leap in the hopes and morale of the increasingly left-oriented post-Aragalaya populace, especially the youth?

Surely the very sight of a platform with the leaders of the JVP-NPP and the FSP-IUSF (AKD and Kumar Gunaratnam, Eranga Gunasekara and Wasantha Mudalige, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Duminda Nagamuwa, Bimal Ratnayake and Pubudu Jayagoda) will take the Left populist project to the next level?

As a party the JVP from its birth, and by extension, the NPP today, have set aside one of the main weapons of leftist theory, strategy and political practice: the United Front. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Dimitrov, Gramsci, Togliatti, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro have founded and enriched this strategic concept.

It is difficult to accept that Rohana Wijeweera and Anura Kumara Dissanayake knew/know better than these giants, and that the JVP-NPP can dispense with this political sword and shield and yet prevail–or even survive the coming storm.

The JVP must present a LEFT option in the leadership of which is the major shareholder; not merely a JVP option or para-JVP option, which is what the NPP is. A credible, viable Left alternative cannot be reduced to a single party and its front/auxiliary; it cannot but be a United Left – a Left Front– alternative.


[Dr Dayan Jayatilleka is author of The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project, in ‘On Public Imagination: A Political & Ethical Imperative’ eds Richard Falk et al, Routledge, New York, 2019.]

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Obtaining fresh mandate unavoidable requirement



Protesters demanding local goverment elections

by Jehan Perera

The government’s plans for reviving the economy show signs of working out for the time being. The long-awaited IMF loan is about to be granted. This would enable the government to access other loans to tide over the current economic difficulties. The challenge will be to ensure that both the old loans and new ones will be repayable. To this end the government has begun to implement its new tax policy which increases the tax burden significantly on income earners who can barely make ends meet, even without the taxes, in the aftermath of the rise in price levels. The government is also giving signals that it plans to downsize the government bureaucracy and loss-making state enterprises. These are reforms that may be necessary to balance the budget, but they are not likely to gain the government the favour of the affected people. The World Bank has warned that many are at risk of falling back into poverty, with 40 percent of the population living on less than 225 rupees per person per day.

The problem for the government is that the economic policies, required to stabilize the economy, are not popular ones. They are also politically difficult ones. The failure to analyse the past does not help us to ascertain reasons for our failures and also avoids taking action against those who had misused, or damaged, the system unfairly. The costs of this economic restructuring, to make the country financially viable, is falling heavily, if not disproportionately, on those who are middle class and below. Fixed income earners are particularly affected as they bear a double burden in being taxed at higher levels, at a time when the cost of living has soared. Unlike those in the business sector, and independent professionals, who can pass on cost increases to their clients, those in fixed incomes find it impossible to make ends meet. Emigration statistics show that over 1.2 million people, or five percent of the population, left the country, for foreign employment, last year.

The economic hardships, experienced by the people, has led to the mobilization of traditional trade unions and professionals’ organisations. They are all up in arms against the government’s income generation, at their expense. Last week’s strike, described as a token strike, was successful in that it evoked a conciliatory response from the government. Many workers did not keep away from work, perhaps due to the apprehension that they might not only lose their jobs, but also their properties, as threatened by one government member, who is close to the President. There was a precedent for this in 1981 when the government warned striking workers that they would be sacked. The government carried out its threat and over 40,000 government officials lost their jobs. They and their families were condemned to a long time in penury. The rest of society went along with the repression as the government was one with an overwhelming mandate from the people.


The striking unions have explained their decision to temporarily discontinue their strike action due to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s willingness to reconsider their economic grievances. More than 40 trade unions, in several sectors, joined the strike. They explained they had been compelled to resort to strike action as there was no positive response from the government to their demands. Due to the strike, services such as health, posts, and railways were affected. Workers in other sectors, including education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development, and banking services, also joined the strike. The striking unions have said they would take up the President’s offer to discuss their concerns with the government and temporarily called a halt to their strike action. This would give the government an opportunity to rethink its strategy. Unlike the government in 1981 this one has no popular mandate. In the aftermath of the protest movement, it has only a legal mandate.

So far, the government has been unyielding in the face of public discontent. Public protests have been suppressed. Protest leaders have been arrested and price and tax hikes have gone ahead as planned. The government has been justifying the rigid positions it has been taking on the basis of its prioritization of economic recovery for which both political stability and financial resources are necessary. However, by refusing to heed public opinion the government has been putting itself on a course of confrontation with organized forces, be they trade unions or political parties. The severity of the economic burden, placed on the larger section of society, even as other sectors of society appear to be relatively unaffected, creates a perception of injustice that needs to be mitigated. Engaging in discussion with the trade unions and reconsidering its approach to those who have been involved in public protests could be peace making gestures in the current situation.

On the other hand, exacerbating the political crisis is the government’s continuing refusal to hold the local government elections, as scheduled, on two occasions now by the Elections Commission and demanded by law. The government’s stance is even in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s directives that the government should release the financial resources necessary for the purpose leading to an ever-widening opposition to it. The government’s determination to thwart the local government elections stems from its pragmatic concerns regarding its ability to fare well at them. Public opinion polls show the government parties obtaining much lower support than the opposition parties. Except for the President, the rest of the government consists of the same political parties and government members that faced the wrath of the people’s movement a year ago and had to resign in ignominy.


The government’s response to the pressures it is under has been to repress the protest movement through police action that is especially intolerant of street protests. It has also put pressure on state institutions to conform to its will, regardless of the law. The decisions of the Election Commission to set dates for the local government elections have been disregarded once, and the elections now appear to have to be postponed yet again. The government is also defying summons upon its ministers by the Human Rights Commission which has been acting independently to hold the government to account to the best extent it can. The government’s refusal to abide by the judicial decision not to block financial resources for election purposes is a blow to the rule of law that will be to the longer-term detriment of the country. These are all negative trends that are recipes for future strife and lawlessness. These would have long term and unexpected implications not to the best for the development of the country or its values.

There are indications that President Wickremesinghe is cognizant of the precariousness of the situation. The accumulation of pressures needs to be avoided, be it for gas at homes or issues in the country. As an experienced political leader, student of international politics, he would be aware of the dangers posed by precipitating a clash involving the three branches of government. A confrontation with the judiciary, or a negation of its decisions, would erode the confidence in the entire legal system. It would damage the confidence of investors and the international community alike in the stability of the polity and its commitment to the rule of law. The public exhortations of the US ambassador with regard to the need to conduct the local government elections would have driven this point home.

It is also likely that the US position on the importance of holding elections on time is also held by the other Western countries and Japan. Sri Lanka is dependent on these countries, still the wealthiest in the world, for its economic sustenance, trade and aid, in the form of concessional financing and benefits, such as the GSP Plus tariff concession. Therefore, the pressures coming from both the ground level in the country and the international community, may push the government in the direction of elections and seeking a mandate from the people. Strengthening the legitimacy of the government to govern effectively and engage in problem solving in the national interest requires an electoral mandate. The mandate sought may not be at the local government level, where public opinion polls show the government at its weakest, but at the national level which the President can exercise at his discretion.

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Sing-along… Down Memory Lane



Sing-alongs have turned out to be hugely popular, in the local showbiz scene, and, I would say, it’s mainly because they are family events, and also the opportunity given to guests to shine, in the vocal spotlight, for a minute, or two!

I first experienced a sing-along when I was invited to check out the famous Rhythm World Dance School sing-along evening.

It was, indeed, something different, with Sohan & The X-Periments doing the needful, and, today, Sohan and his outfit are considered the No.1 band for sing-along events.

Melantha Perera: President of Moratuwa Arts Forum

I’m told that the first ever sing-along concert, in Sri Lanka, was held on 27th April, 1997, and it was called Down Memory Lane (DML), presented by the Moratuwa Arts Forum (MAF),

The year 2023 is a landmark year for the MAF and, I’m informed, they will be celebrating their Silver Jubilee with a memorable concert, on 29th April, 2023, at the Grand Bolgoda Resort, Moratuwa.

Due to the Covid pandemic, their sing-along series had to be cancelled, as well as their planned concert for 2019. However, the organisers say the delayed 25th Jubilee Celebration concert is poised to be a thriller, scheduled to be held on 29th April, 2023.

During the past 25 years, 18 DML concerts had been held, and the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will be the 19th in the series.

Famous, and much-loved, ‘golden oldies’, will be sung by the audience of music lovers, at this two and a half hours programme.

Down Memory Lane was the brainchild of musician Priya Peiris, (of ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do’ fame) and the MAF became the pioneers of sing-along concerts in Sri Lanka.

The repertoire of songs for the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will include a vast selection of international favourites, Cowboy and old American Plantation hits, Calypsos, Negro Spirituals, everybody’s favourites, from the ’60s and ’70s era, Sinhala evergreens, etc.

Down Memory Lane


Fun time for the audience Down Memory Lane

Singers from the Moratuwa Arts Forum will be on stage to urge the audience to sing. The band Echo Steel will provide the musical accompaniment for the audience to join in the singing, supported by Brian Coorey, the left handed electric bass guitarist, and Ramany Soysa on grand piano.

The organisers say that every participant will get a free songbook. There would also be a raffle draw, with several prizes to be won,

Arun Dias Bandaranaike will be the master of ceremonies.

President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, Melantha Perera, back from Australia, after a successful tour, says: “All music lovers, especially Golden Oldies enthusiasts, are cordially invited to come with their families, and friends, to have an enjoyable evening, and to experience heartwarming fellowship and bonhomie.”

Further details could be obtained from MAF Treasurer, Laksiri Fernando (077 376 22 75).

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